By Dennis Hong
In case my last name doesn’t make it obvious enough, I’m Asian. At the same time, as some of my friends have noticed, my last few girlfriends have all been decidedly not Asian.
To their mock-raised eyebrows, my response is, “I’m sorry. It’s not my fault.”
Okay, okay, I know what they’re thinking: As an Asian, I’m supposed to like “my own kind,” right?
Sure. And eat rice … and love math … and know just how much starch to add to your laundry … and all those other uncomfortable, racial stereotypes we’re not supposed to talk about.
Not surprisingly, I’ve often been slapped with the “Twinkie” label. In case you aren’t hip on your semi-offensive urban speak, a Twinkie is an Asian who acts white—that is, yellow on the outside, but white on the inside.
But, here’s a secret: My preference for dating non-Asian women wasn’t a conscious choice.
The truth is that I rarely meet Asian women who are interested in me. In fact, a disproportionate number of Asian women in my hometown only seem to date non-Asian men. At least, that’s what it’s felt like for years now.
That’s why I decided to verify my suspicions by turning to the ultimate dating petri dish: Match.com.
On Match, people can publicly list every ethnicity they’re willing to date. So, I ran a search for women between the ages of 21 and 40, who list themselves as Asian, and who reside within 50 miles of my zip code. Of these women, I wanted to see what percentages A) specifically include Asian as one of their preferences, and B) specifically exclude Asian as one of their preferences.
My query returned the profiles of 687 Asian women. Yikes. This was turning out to be a daunting task. So, I enlisted the help of a programmer friend who wrote a piece of computer code to scour these profiles and collect the data.
Unfortunately, that didn’t quite go as planned. Not only did the code fail to collect the data, it proceeded to send “winks” on my behalf to 18 of these women. On the plus side, two winked back, and one was pretty cute. So, my programmer friend is forgiven.
Eventually, I did manage to collect the data for 396 women. Here are the results:
- 169 listed no preference
- 116 included Asian as a preference
- 111 excluded Asian as a preference
Doing the math, you’ll notice that almost one-third of the Asian women on Match.com openly refuse to date Asian men. Let’s make this clear here. They’re not silently thinking, If an Asian guy messages me, I’m just not going to respond.
No, they’re publicly announcing, “If you are an Asian guy, do not bother to contact me, because I will not date you.”
Surprised by this admittedly less-than-scientific survey, I decided to scour the internet for any stats to corroborate or refute my findings. That’s when I came across this study by the Pew Research Center. Here’s asummary of the the findings, which state:
In the United States, 36 percent of the Asian women who got married between 2008 and 2010 married non-Asian, while only 17 percent of Asian men married non-Asian.
As it turns out, my half-assed, Match.com survey nailed almost the exact percentage as a national survey of almost three million households.
So, what’s the deal then?
I have a few guesses:
Traditional Asian cultures can be notoriously xenophobic. As such, a second-generation Asian-American, with traditionally-minded parents, will probably have to shoulder a ton of pressure to marry an Asian. One of my theories is that many Asian women date outside their race as a way to rebel against their parents.
More cynically, though, I suspect there’s an even deeper reason for many Asian women’s shunning of Asian men: Status.
I believe that many Asian women feel a sense that they are raising their social status by dating white men. This status issue certainly isn’t helped at all by the unfair stereotype of Asian men as non-virile and sexually inept.
Some Asian women I’ve interacted with explain that they’re westernized, so they don’t relate well to traditionally-raised, Asian men. To that, I respond with: Um, hello? Are there not similarly westernized Asian men?
But, whatever. I’m not here to argue against someone’s personal dating preferences. I’ve always held to the belief that we don’t owe anyone an explanation for whom we choose to date. If an Asian girl doesn’t want to date Asian guys, that’s her prerogative.
Still, that doesn’t change the fact that, assuming Match.com is any reflection of the general population of my city, at least one out of every three Asian women I meet has already excluded me from her dating pool.
I mean, I’d understand if I’d done something stupid to get myself banned from the pool (like, say, getting sloppy drunk and peeing into the water). But, these women aren’t even letting me in their pool in the first place. I’m the little Chinese kid standing outside, rattling the gate in envy as I watch all the other kids slipping and sliding around and having a splashing grand time.
The bottom line is, I’m not opposed to dating Asian women. I know my mom, for one, would be eternally grateful. Actually, I’m not opposed to dating women of any ethnicity. And I’ve tried. But, if I find more success dating non-Asians than Asians, who do you think I’m going to start actively pursuing?
So, my last few girlfriends haven’t been Asian. But … so what? I’ve been in a great relationship with a non-Asian girl for almost a year now, and I’ve never for a second felt that I was missing out by dating outside my race. If anything, I’m ecstatic my dating circumstances have led me to her.
My race doesn’t want to date me, and I’ve learned to accept that.
The post appeared on The Frisky.